In the middle of January, farms had 107 million kilos of food and food-industry potatoes in stock, of which food potatoes accounted for 91 million kilos. This winter, food potato stocks have decreased at an average monthly pace of 25 million kilos , i.e. slightly slower than last year. The total stock volume was 9.7 million kilos higher than in January 2019.
“Changing weather conditions during the growth season are reflected in potato stocks. Last summer, main production areas, the Southern Ostrobothnia ELY Centre region, in particular, suffered from frost, and yields were smaller than normal. However, growing conditions were good in the Tavastia region. In the middle of January, farms located in the Northern Ostrobothnia and Ostrobothnia ELY Centre regions had 55 million kilos of potatoes in stock, accounting for 60% of Finland’s total food potato stocks,” says Anna-Kaisa Jaakkonen, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Potato has multiple uses
How food and food-industry potatoes are used depends on the year in question. Harvest volumes, quality, domestic consumption, potato markets inside and outside Europe and potato prices determine how potato stocks are used. Batches of potatoes high in starch can be used in potato flake and starch production.
This year, the potato quality was slightly lower than in the previous year. In December 2019, saleable high-quality potatoes made up 78.8% of all sorted potatoes, while the corresponding figure was 79% in the year before. As a result, potatoes with scab, for example, can be used in the food potato industry as peeled potatoes.
Producers receive less than 20 cents per one kilo of potatoes
The price of food potatoes was EUR 19.19 per 100 kilos in December 2019, being at the same level as in the corresponding period in the previous year, when the price was EUR 19.18 per 100 kilos. Changes in potato prices do not seem to affect the consumption of potatoes in Finland.
“This winter, potatoes are mainly expected to be exported to Eastern Europe, as Russia has still not officially opened its doors for imports from EU states. Transportation costs make up a basic challenge in food exports from Finland, increasing the prices of products,” Jaakkonen says.
Background to the statistics
The stock level survey was targeted at farms growing food and food-industry potatoes, whose cultivation area is at least five hectares.
These kinds of farms numbered 448, and their combined food and food-industry potato cultivation area amounted to 10,701 hectares. Compared with the previous year, the number of farms decreased by 13 farms, or 3%. The cultivation area increased by 231 hectares, or 2%. The average food and food-industry potato cultivation area was 24 hectares per farm. Half of these farms are included in the statistics. The response rate was high at 94%.